The city official also informed me that I needed a permit to own rental property in their jurisdiction!?! Being the obsequious citizen that I am, I dutifully completed the requisite form--after all, I had inadvertently "ratted" on myself. Yesterday I received a pretty piece of cardboard that "bestows" upon me the right to rent my property. I am truly humbled that they have bequeathed such honor upon me and allow me to transform a vacant house into an attractive residence.
I am not completely certain as to the rationale behind these inane requirements. I didn't ask the city official to whom I spoke, primarily because I was afraid of what I might say in response. I don't have much experience in such matters, but it seems to me that when you are in the process of groveling at the feet of some bureaucrat for permission to use your property, it is generally wise to refrain from comments that might imply that you think you are talking to a petty little tyrant. Otherwise, they might demonstrate just how petty and tyrannical they can be. So I bit my tongue and wrapped a few more pieces of duct tape around my head to keep it from exploding.
The letter I received along with my permit stated:
Thank you for your prompt cooperation with the City of X's new Rental Registration program. By implementing this program, one of the City's goals is to identify problems that may occur in rental units and provide early notification to the owner. We hope, by doing this, the problem will be brought to your attention at the earliest stage; thus making the cost of repairs less than if the problem goes undetected for an extended period of time.I am tempted to contact the city to point out that my "cooperation" was prompted by their not so subtle threats. As an accompanying document states, failure to register can result in prosecution in municipal court. My "cooperation" was no different from the victim of an armed robber "voluntarily" handing over his wallet. However, as I noted above, it probably wouldn't be wise to to taunt armed bureaucrats.
I am also greatly relieved to know that city officials will be keeping an eye on my property, and will alert me if any repairs are needed. I had assumed that I would be responsible for making periodic inspections of the home. After all, it is my property. But with city officials doing this for me, I can spend my time doing more enjoyable things, such as writing about patronizing public officials.
I will admit that during my due diligence on this property, I did not look into needing a permit to have the electricity turned on. I will also admit that, despite knowing that local government officials can be nasty little pricks, I did not envision that I would need to seek such permission. After all, state officials routinely try to prevent power companies from turning someone's power off.
Perhaps what annoys me most about this is that I won't have much say in city matters. Since I do not reside in this little fiefdom, I can't vote there. I suppose I could go to city council and raise a ruckus about oppression of real estate moguls, but I seriously doubt that that would have any impact. They would probably tell me to shut up and get a permit for the azaleas I intend to plant.
So, while I am trying to engage in my own economic stimulation--and I mean that literally, I am trying to stimulate my economic situation--city officials are busy making it more difficult. While I am trying to create jobs--the renovation of the property will provide work for about a dozen people--the government is making me jump through their asinine hoops.
I realize that my experience is probably small potatoes compared to what many property owners must endure. But that doesn't change the fact that city officials have arbitrarily imposed their standards and values upon me. The purpose of government is to protect individual rights, including property rights, not make us beg for permission to turn on the lights.
I had thought--obviously naively--that perhaps city officials would throw a parade in my honor after I renovated the house and helped improve the neighborhood. Instead, they welcomed me with red tape and a gun.
Note: Due to a clerical error on my part, this was not posted this morning as intended.